FACING Meralco in a do-or-die encounter for the last quarterfinals berth in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup is an entirely different ballgame for Alaska.
An entirely different import to take care, too, for the Aces.
Coach Alex Compton said the Aces will have their hands full trying to slow down Meralco import Delroy James in their sudden-death game Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Compton was on hand along with top deputy Eric Altamirano when James lifted Alaska to a 95-91 upset of Chris McCullough and the highly favored San Miguel Beermen in their must-win game during the final day of the eliminations at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
James scattered 34 points and scored the Bolts’ last six points to clinch the win that earned them the right to face the Aces in a win-or-go-home encounter for the eighth and last playoffs berth in the mid-season conference.
“James plays a lot more like Justin Brownlee and coach Norman (Black) has trusted him much the same way,” said Compton after the game.
“He is a versatile all-around scorer who attacks really well on the face up, and can post too. I was really impressed watching him play against San Miguel.”
Alaska beat Meralco, 93-89, in their lone encounter in the eliminations.
But a lot has changed since then with both teams opting to replace both their hurting imports.
The Aces brought back old hand Diamon Simpson, while the Bolts parted ways with Gani Lawal for James.
“We need to forget our first game against them. This is a totally different team with a different import,” noted Compton.
It didn’t help any that Alaska is currently on a five-game skid that allowed Meralco to catch up with them at 4-7 and forced a playoff.
Now, the Aces need to set aside that losing streak as they face a suddenly-resurgent Bolts that found a savior in James.
“We cannot stop him, but hopefully we can limit him a bit and make him to get and make tougher shots while we work to contain (Chris) Newsome, (Cliff Hodge), (Baser) Amer and the rest of their talented local threats,” stressed Compton.